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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

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gg                                           MB HOLI AT XOSt.
the dkntprfb, or more speck! Holi performances, got up by the different bodies
of Jat mmindBrs, each ia their own quarter of the town.   The dancers, exck-
sively men and boys, are all members of the proprietory clan, and are
all dressed alike in a very high-waisted full skirted white robe, reaching to
the anHes, called a jhotgd, with a red pagri, in which is set at the back of the
head a long tinsel plume, lalangi, to represent the peacock feathers with which
Krishna was wont to adorn himself as he rambled through the woods.   The
women stand at one end of the court-yard with their mantle drawn over their
feces and holding long Utki^ wii& which, at a later periot? of the proceedings,
they jain in the Holi sports*   Opposite them are the bandsmen with dramsf
cymbals and timbrels, and at their back other men with sticks and .green
twigs,  which they  brandish   about over  their   heads.   The space in   the
middle is circled by torch-bearers and kept clear for the dancers, who are
generally six in number, only-one pair-dancing at a time.   Each performer^
in the dress as above described, has a knife or dagger in his right hand and
its scabbard in hia left.   At first, darting forward, they make a feint of thrust-
ing at the women or other spectators, and then pointing the knife to their owa
breast iihey whirl round and round, generally backwards, the pace growing
faster and more furious -and the clash of th& band louder and louder, till at
last £hey sink down, wifli their flowing robe spread out all round them, in
a sort of curtsey, and, retire into the back ground, to be succeeded by another
pair of performers.   After .a pair of men comes a pair of boys, and so on
alternately with very little variation in the action.   Between the dances a '
verse or two of a song is sung, -and at the end comes the Holi khelna*   This i&
a very monotonous performance.   The women stand in a  line, their faces
veiled, and each with a Idthi ornamented with bands of metal and gaudy
pendents, like the Bacchantes of old with the thyrsus, and an eqnal number
of mem oppose iiiem at a few yards* interval.   The latter advance slowly with
a defiant air and continue shouting snatches of scurrilous song till they are
;dose upon the womei^ who then thrust out their Idthw, and without uttering
a word follow them as they tarn iheir back and retreat to their original stand-
ing-place,   Arrived there, they let the women form again in line as they were
at first and ihen again advance upon them precisely as before, and so it
g-oes oa till fheir repertory of songs is exhausted, or they have no voice left
to smg them.    To complete my description I here give  some specimens
of these           or verses, and have aided notes to all the words that seemed
likely to            explanation.   They are many of them too coarse and at ihe
too stnpid to make it desirable for me to translate ihem in full